As the 4th feature film from Pixar and their 3rd original story Monsters Inc is a total delight. This time we get a new director with Pete Doctor with Lee Unkrich and David Silverman (of Simpsons fame) co-directing. The story is wildly creative with humor, adventure and something to appeal to the entire family.
Monsters Inc takes us to a ‘parallel city’ of Monstropolis that is full of different monsters of all shapes, sizes and varieties. In order for the city to run they rely on human screams that are collected when top monsters go into the closets of human children and scare them. So the monster really is in the closet!
Our lead characters are a Jewish eyeball Monster named Mike Wazowski voiced by Billy Crystal and his best friend James P Sullivan or Sully voiced by John Goodman. They are a great duo with Mike being the neurotic optimist and Sully being a bit lazy top dog at the plant.
When you think about the characters in the previous films and look at Monsters Inc it is remarkable. Look at the fur on Sully’s coat. It’s amazing! All the monsters are that way. They are all lush and textured.
Randall is the other top scarrer and main competition for Sully and he is a chameleon who’s leathery skin looks so real. He kind of looks like his voice actor Steve Buscemi who is very creepy (much better here than in Home on the Range!).
I’m sure from those character descriptions you can get a little bit of a feeling for how creative Monsters Inc is. It’s also bright and colorful and Billy Crystal is hilarious as Mike.
The people in Monstropolis believe a human child is toxic and that even the touch of a clothing will require decontamination for a monster. They have an entire defense team that sanitizes and cleans anyone who has contact with a child. Well , the story starts into gear when a little girl gets let into the scare floor and ends up in the possession of Mike and Sully.
The little girl who is named Boo is super cute, so much so that she might annoy some more jaded viewers. I think she kind of needed to be that cute in order to warm over the hearts of monsters who think she’s a killing machine. Imagine if she was some bratty little girl? They would have disposed of her right away. But Sully becomes attached to her and they end up on an exciting adventure to get Boo back home.
The highlight is an amazing chase sequence in the library of doors they have both chasing Randall and trying to find Boo’s door. It is so exciting and one of Pixar’s best animated scenes. I mean look at this scene!
All the while the tension is cut by humor from Crystal who evidently loves playing the part. On the audio commentary the directors said they got both Crystal and Goodman in the same recording sessions which almost never happens in animated films and you can tell. There is a kinship and closeness the two friends. There is also a great little cameo from the Abominable Snowman voiced by Pixar favorite John Ratzenberger.
The only caveat I would say on Monsters Inc is it might be a little scary for children under 5, particularly when the monsters are scaring kids at the beginning. Randall is also a very scary villain and the fact he is hunting down a child may be too much for little ones.
That said, the relationship between Sully and Boo is just lovely and something you don’t see that often between a male character and a child. Usually such tenderness is reserved for maternal female characters.
Sully is willing to do anything to help Boo, even risking his and his friends safety because he knows he needs too. That kind of bond is rare and gives the film a heart elevating it beyond a silly kids film.
Randy Newman’s score is great especially during the door scene and I love the finale song between Mike and Sully.
I went into this rewatch wondering if Monsters Inc would hold up and it is better than I remembered it. It’s a delight. Full of humor, amazing animation, adventure and as I just said real heart. It just shows how great the Pixar movies are that it still will probably rank 9th but we’ll see. (who cares about stupid rankings anyway!).
Overall Grade- A (only because I think those 8 are just a hair better but its amazing! I also still stand by a recent debate I had with online friends that Frozen is better than Monsters Inc. It has characters I related too more, a story less predictable and gorgeous songs. Frozen A+, Monsters Inc A. That’s how I really feel!).